H.R. McMaster, President Donald Trump’s national security adviser, said during a television talk show interview the violence in Charlottesville over the fate of a Robert E. Lee statue and the fatality that resulted “meets the definition of terrorism.”
That’s a pretty broad definition he’s using. And wrongly so.
“Anytime that you commit an attack against people to incite fear, it is terrorism,” McMaster said, on “This Week” on ABC.
By that standard, Black Lives Matter is a terror organization. Berkeley college kids — at least, the ones who protested the planned Milo Yiannopoulos speech to the point of burning properties and inciting fear — could be charged with acts of terror.
The many, many leftists and anarchists who punched or hit or otherwise attacked President Donald Trump supporters for the mere fact they wore a “Make America Great Again” cap are obviously tied to terror.
And way, way back, in 2008, when a couple of New Black Panther Party members, dressed in full battle black, stood outside a polling place in Philadelphia on Election Day, serving as tools of intimidation to white voters — that was definitely a case of terrorism, right?
The thing about labeling acts of violence as terrorism is the definition can stretch to incredible bounds.
Is a school yard bully a terrorist?
A parent who beats his child?
How about a rapist, murderer, molester or street attacker?
Are they all terrorists, committing acts of terror, too?
Terrorism generally has a political or, in the case of Islam, religious bent. It’s not, as McMaster said, simply violence committed against another with the goal of instilling fear. That could be said of any crime — and in the hands of the right attorney, no doubt would. Truly, a case could be made that the white supremacist uprisings that marked Charlottesville’s week of violence were politically motivated, and therefore, terrorist-tied. But calling any and all acts of violence that are fear-based as terrorism is irresponsible.
The danger of slinging about terrorism in such manner is that it degrades the words “terror” and “terrorist.” Soon enough, all acts of violence are acts of terror — and that means acts of terror, like horrific Islamic terrorist bombings and killings, are simply more acts of violence.
Once the words are conflated and the definitions cloudy, then terrorism is not really terrorism.
Why that matters? Remember, we’re in a war against terror — against the type of terrorists who struck at America’s soil on Sept. 11, 2001, against the Islamic terrorists who’ve pledged to take out the West, crumble Europe, kill the pope and hang an ISIS flag from the White House.
And one cannot win against an enemy if one cannot first name the enemy.